Richard Farnes on Bartok’s Duke Bluebeard’s Castle

Excerpt – I can remember all sorts of little moments where we were making adjustments. A lot of them I foresaw in the score, there were certain bars I knew would be an issue, even with someone like John Tomlinson, who delivers very clear text (he’s fantastic). You have to do diminuendos, but you have to be very careful not to emasculate the music. If we have to make adjustments, to make sure that the voices come through, I always approach things from a dramatic point of view. There may be a lowering of the orchestra level, in order that a couple of bars later, it sort of seethes upwards in a dramatic way. Sometimes the composer doesn’t necessarily write that, but it enhances the dramatic effect. And it also means that the voice and the text are audible.

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